published Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Ancient art of henna painting practiced at Chattanooga Market Culture Fest

The art of henna uses traditional, intricate patterns from India and Middle Eastern countries.
The art of henna uses traditional, intricate patterns from India and Middle Eastern countries.

During a four-month stint living in India, Jessica Kitchens drank in the local culture, including henna painting.

“I observed a lot and practiced,” Kitchens said of the ancient art.

Henna is used in Indian and Middle Eastern cultures to stain the skin in traditional, intricate patterns.

Before weddings, women gather and are painted with henna.

Kitchens said she never officially learned how to paint with henna but has spent the last couple of years practicing based on what she observed.

At the Chattanooga Market Culture Fest on Sunday, Kitchens appeared confident as she applied a homemade henna paste to the hand of Elizabeth Emmons, creating an intricate floral pattern.

Emmons, who works in human resources at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, said she has been spending time learning about cultural diversity and traditions.

“I thought this would be something educational and fun,” she said of her henna tattoo. “I always thought (henna) was very pretty and representative of Indian culture.”

Working from a photograph, Kitchens applied a pattern in tiny lines and dots to Emmons’ hand.

According to the Encyclopedia of Henna, henna use began in the late Neolithic period and has been incorporated into aspects of Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism and Islam.

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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